Great Gift: Easy-Rockin’ Rider
Build this realistic rocker from oak and plywood, and then turn a child loose on the road to adventure.
Help your youngsters feel the wind in their faces on this sporty rocker.
Whether you’re a parent, grandparent, aunt, or uncle, you’ll love building this rocking cycle almost as much as watching the little youngster in your life taking it for a spin.
Start with the wheels
You’ll make the wheels/tires by laminating plywood. Because plywood thicknesses can vary by maker, there could be subtle differences between our plan and your bike. So make the wheels first, and then adjust measurements as indicated for certain parts of the bike to match the wheel thickness.
1 Cut birch plywood blanks for3the wheel assemblies (A–C): eight at ∕4×10×10", and six at 1∕4×91∕2×91∕2". Mark the centerpoint of each blank.
2 Lay out the three diameters and spokes for the rims (A) [Rim Gridded Pattern page 67, Drawing 1]. Drill a 3∕8" hole at the centerpoint of all blanks. Create a bandsaw circle-cutting jig by cutting a piece of 3∕4" plywood to a size slightly smaller than your bandsaw’s table. Cut the spacers (B) to shape [Photos A and B]. Repeat the process for the rims and sidewalls (A, C), creating a second pivot point on the jig for these larger parts.
3 The inner diameters cannot be cut at the bandsaw because there is no entry/exit point. Instead, make an offset pivot base [Photo C] for your plunge router to make these inner cutouts [Photo D]. (We used a 1∕4" upcut spiral bit.) Rout all the spacers (B) first because they can be cut in one pass. Then do the sidewalls (C), but make the cut in progressively deeper passes to avoid breaking the bit.
4 The rims (A) require an extra step because of the spokes. Before routing, drill 3∕8" holes where the spokes join the inner tire diameter, and 1∕4" holes where the spokes meet the hub. Then “connect the dots” with a router and jigsaw [Photos E and F].
5 File and sand smooth all edges on each wheel part. Rout 1∕8" chamfers along the spokes and the inner hub of the rims (A), but not the outer or inner diameters of the tire [Drawing 1].
6 Glue each wheel assembly together, starting with the center parts and working outward, staggering the spokes 45° from each other. After the glue dries, chamfer the inner diameters of the sidewalls (C), and
round over the outer diameters. Finish-sand as needed.
Now make the frame
1 Make two angle-marking templates to use in laying out the frames (D), starting with 1∕4×4×15" blanks of any stock. Cut one of the blanks with a 75° angle at one end and 130° at the other. Make the second blank with 110° and 120° angles. Label each angle for easy reference as you lay out the frame.
2 Cut two 3∕4×10×19" plywood blanks for the frames (D), and secure together with double-faced tape. Using the dimensions and angles on Drawing 2, lay out the frames, cut them to shape [Photos G–J], and rout the 3∕16" and 1∕2" round-overs.
Add the seat and motor
1 Retrieve a wheel assembly and measure its thickness. Cut the tank top (E), front/ backs (F), and seat (G) to size [Drawing 3, Materials List], using the wheel thickness as the part width. Bevel the ends. (The roundovers come later.)
2 Glue the tank parts and seat to one of the frames (D) [Photo K].
3 Laminate white oak to make the block (H) the same thickness as the wheel assemblies, and then cut it to shape [Block Gridded Pattern]. Rout 1∕8" round-overs along the top and bottom edges. The front edges get 1∕2" round-overs, and the back edges 3∕4" [Drawing 4].
4 Cut the cover (I), large fins (J), and small fins (K) to size [Drawing 4].
5 Rabbet all the fins, and then glue them into separate assemblies [Photo L]. When dry, sand a 1∕2" radius on the corners of the fins and cover. Rout a 1∕4" round-over on the motor-cover edges.
6 Fasten the fin assembly (I–K) to the block (H) [Photo M], and then glue the block to one frame (D) [Photo N].
7 From a 1" white oak dowel [Skill Builder, page 67], cut four axle spacers (M). Drill a centered 3∕8" hole through each. Cut two 53∕4"long sections of 3∕8" white oak dowel for the axles (N).
8 Insert an axle through the back-wheel hub, slip an axle spacer onto the axle, and glue it all to the frame with the axle extending 1∕4" beyond the frame. Add another spacer, then glue the remaining frame to the block (H) as well. Clamp and allow to dry.
9 Rout a 1∕2" round-over along the frame’s top edges. Sand a 3∕4" round-over along the rear of the seat, and a 1" round-over at the rear of the tank [Drawing 3]. Cut the clutch covers (L) to size and shape [Drawing 4a], sand them smooth, and glue them to the block.
Give it some steering
1 Cut the forks (O) to size [Exploded View]. Drill the axle holes, and round the edges.
2 Laminate two pieces of 1∕2" plywood for the handlebar (P) [Handlebar Gridded Pattern], and lay it out. Drill the counterbores and pilot holes, and then cut to shape. Rout the round-overs and sand smooth.
holes, and then cut to shape. Rout the roundovers and sand smooth.
3 Glue the front wheel between the forks with the axle and spacers in place [Exploded View]. Next, glue the assembled fork to the frame assembly, leaving 2" of length extending above the tank. Drill countersunk pilot holes diagonally through the fork, and drive screws into the frame. (These will be covered by the headlight panel [Q].) Screw the handlebar to the fork, and cover the screwheads with wood plugs.
4 Cut the headlight panel (Q) and headlights (R) to size and sand smooth [Exploded View]. Glue the headlights to the panel, and then glue the panel to the forks and handlebar.
Finally, get to rocking
1 Lay out the rockers (S) using the Rocker Gridded Pattern. Stack-cut and edge-sand the rockers at the same time to ensure identical shapes. Next, cut to size the tire supports (T) and platforms (U) [Exploded View], and round over the edges. Glue and screw the platforms to the tops of the rockers; leave the supports off for now.
2 Cut the motor stand (V) to size [Drawing 4b], and lay out its location on the platforms [Photo O]. Drill the countersunk pilot holes in the platforms and stand; round over the stand’s edges. Glue and screw the stand to the rear platform with a 2" screw. Then turn the motorcycle upside down, and fasten the platform and stand to the block with a 4" screw.
3 Position the tire supports between the rockers, resting on the wheels. Transfer the support locations to the rockers. Remove the motorcycle from the rockers, drill counterbored pilot holes, and attach the supports with screws. Plug the holes and trim flush. 4 Apply a finish of your choice. We sprayed on three coats of Watco satin lacquer, sanding between coats with a 320-grit sanding sponge.
5 Reattach the motorcycle to the stand. Then add four screws through the supports to the thick “tread” of the front and back wheels.
6 Now you’re ready for title, license, and registration, and the open road!
Cut about 4" into the jig, and clamp it to the bandsaw table. Using one of the spacer (B) blanks as a guide, align the center of one edge with the teeth of the (stopped) blade. Use a 3∕8" brad-point drill bit to mark the pivot point on the jig. Remove both from the bandsaw, drill a 3∕8" hole in the jig where marked, and clamp it to the table again. Insert a 3∕8" dowel pivot pin and one of the blanks, and rotate the blank to cut it round. Repeat for the remaining spacers. Mark a second pivot point for the rims (A) and sidewalls (C) and cut them to shape.
Rout between the drilled holes by plunging the router bit 1∕4" into one hole, and then routing counterclockwise to the next hole. Lift the bit, lower another 1∕4", and repeat until through. Repeat for the other quadrants.
Using a jigsaw and 20-tpi plywood blade, cut from hole to hole to remove the waste between the spokes.
When routing a spacer (B) or sidewall (C), secure the blank to a scrap piece of plywood with double-faced tape, including the center part. This ensures the center will not move as you separate it from the outer part.
Custom-fit the offset pivot base to your router, drilling counterbored holes for the mounting screws, a hole for the bit, and a hole for the pivot pin positioned to rout a 3” radius.
With the rabbets facing up, stack the large fins (J) together with glue only on the raised portions. Keep the edges and ends aligned. Repeat for the small fins (K). Top the large-fin assembly with the motor cover (I).
Glue the tank top (E), seat (G), and tank front/backs (F) to the frame, keeping the edges aligned with those of the frame. Glue the tank front/backs to the tank top and seat as well as to the frame.
Glue and clamp the motor assembly to the frame, aligning the block flush with the bottom edge of the frame and extending 1∕2" forward.
Glue and screw the motor stack (I–K) to the block (H), keeping it centered front-to-back and side-to-side.
Produced by Bob Hunter with John Olson Project design: John Olson Illustrations: Roxanne LeMoine, Lorna Johnson